Hot Dogs And Wine? Oh My!

By Leslee D. Miller

Bring on the mustard, the pickles, the ketchup and all the fixins’ because I’ve got all the answers you need for pairing to hot dogs and sausages on the grill this month! From bratwurst to polish sausage, to good ole fashioned wieners, Americans have enjoyed the almighty dog since 1871 when a German baker by the name of Charles Feltman, opened up the first Coney Island hot dog stand selling 3,684 sausages, served in a milk roll, his first year of business.
Certainly, beer has always been the favorite when it comes to pairing a libation to this delicious juicy treat, but in all reality wine just might be the better choice depending on the style of wiener you’re reaching for. As a way to pay homage to one of the greatest foods invented, I thought I’d toss out a good helping of grape alternatives to make your pairing to dogs that much better.
Gamay! Most Americans associate the Gamay grape with the region of Beaujolais. Unfortunately, Beaujolais Nouveau, a completely different animal all together that produces the not-so-serious ‘drink now’ red wine released every November is the one category that most associate with this gorgeous southern Burgundian region. When in fact, we can thank Gamay for producing some of the most ethereal delicious light bodied reds in France. Kermit Lynch’s 2015 Beaujolais – a wine that exudes dark, rich blackberry fruit popped by notes of black pepper and spice making this beaut the perfect pairing to bratwurst and good ole fashioned wieners hot off the grill!
Zinfandel. Yes, the grape we adore oh so much in the northern parts of California. Hailing mainly from the Sonoma Valley, Zinfandel has the gorgeous ability to pair to a variety of smoked or grilled dogs due to its weight and boozy structured. Although it grows beautifully in the north, I’m a fan of its Paso Robles roots as well. Try Force of Nature Zinfandel from Rob Murray Vineyards. Dark and dreamy, and equipped with a cool label, too (great for gift giving)!
Syrah. My gosh, how can we forget the king of pork! Syrah, the grape I call the ‘piggy grape’. All things pork? Sign up Syrah for the win! From grilled to sauced, Syrah is the answer to pork because of the intense black pepper, pork belly aromas the grape can display.
Malbec. Of course, we can’t forget one of the world’s most lovable grapes, Malbec, now can we? From Bordeaux to Cahors, these stunning picturesque regions produce some of the most structured Malbecs you’re most likely to lay your lips on. Give Cahors a chance and break from the Argentine section for just a second to discover the real grit behind this blue fruited, spiced grape.
Merlot. Still clawing her way back to the top (at least in the U.S.), after Pinot Noir and the movie ‘Sideways’ threw her to the wayside. Although still one of the most revered grapes in Bordeaux, Merlot for me is the answer to a lot of delicious pork dishes. Whether it be grilled, smoked or sauced, I love the soft feminine touch of violet, soft dried rose petal and spice this can grape display while it’s often surrounded by lush blackberry, raspberry jam jar notes. Try the cute little commune of Saint-…milion for some of my faves!

Tempranillo. Love a Chorizo dog as much as I do? Well, you’re gonna need Tempranillo then! Don’t forget about the old adage: ‘What grows together, goes together’ when we’re talking about regional food. Select a grape from the same region to make it one perfect pairing! Head into a region like Toro, Spain if you’re looking for a little more heft to your Tempranillo. The grape Tempranillo here is called: Tinto de Toro.
Carignan. A grape that not many folks know about or have ever tried (knowingly). The grape is often found in the Côtes du Rhône blended with Syrah and Grenache, or also found in southern France blended with other grapes from its communes. But for me, it’s one of my favorite light-medium bodied reds to enjoy all year round. My current favorite is one of southern Rhone’s newest releases from Domaine La Manarine called ‘Le Carignan’. Beaming with lush raspberry, strawberry, white pepper and lavender. A wine impossible not to love!
Ready for the whites? Yes? Then you know I’m going to declare: Riesling! Love your dog super spicy? Then THIS is your grape. From white sausages (like chicken or turkey) into that dog that is stacked high with pickled peppers, relish and jalapeños, Riesling is your girl. My advice, go straight to the German section and get to it!
Pinot Gris. I love me a fat rich Pinot Gris from the region of Alsace, France when enjoying a plate of Kielbasa. The rich honey like flavors of Pinot Gris, backed by all its sliced apple, pear and peach make this grape a perfect pairing to all those white meat gourmet sausages, too. Try out a chicken, green apple, gouda dog with an Alsatian Pinot Gris tonite! Need a bombtastic producer? Try on Marcel Deiss. He’s been one of my favorite producers for almost 20yrs. A winery I so adore!
There you have it peeps, all the answers you need to enjoy one boozy grill day with all the right grapes. From my grill to yours, enjoy your perfect hot dog pairings!

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